Lincoln University alumnus Tucker Mattern wants to make a positive influence on the wine industry, especially as far as climate change is concerned.
“The industry is set up to make changes that other industries can follow, giving it an influential power and a real chance to make a difference,” he says. “I would like to be a part of that. I see myself having a lifelong career in viticulture and winemaking.”
Tucker is well on his way to achieving his goals. He completed Lincoln University’s Master of Wine and Viticulture last year and has now scored his dream job at Quartz Reef in Cromwell, where he works as an Assistant Winemaker, Assistant Viticulturist and Vineyard Manager.
“I am very much enjoying the split responsibilities for both the vineyards and winemaking. Working with organics and biodynamics and learning sparkling winemaking is a dream come true.”
He says his high-level Lincoln qualification contributes to employers taking him seriously.
“This has given me the confidence to apply for higher-level positions and be assertive with my decision-making on the job.
“Having a comprehensive knowledge of how vines grow, utilise nutrients and react to their cultivated environment allows me to anticipate and come up with a comprehensive viticulture plan. This contributes to the health and longevity of the vineyard, as well as the quality of the grapes and value of the yield.”
He is also able to apply his education to quality control in winemaking.
“The ability to understand yeast, bacteria, enzymes and the various biochemical interactions that come with the winemaking process empowers me to make quality decisions in the production environment.”
Hailing from a small farming community in Ukiah, California, Tucker grew up working in viticulture. However, it wasn’t until he “stepped away from it” for several years that he realised how much he missed the balance of outdoor work and the challenge of farming.
He decided to study at Lincoln because he wanted to learn more about cooler climate varieties, which the university specialises in, having established the first tertiary-level cool climate wine programme in the English-speaking world.
Now he is exactly where he wants to be.
“Working in the wine industry is truly a wonderful career,” he says. “The diversity of my job is very much what dreams are made of. I’m always working with my hands, engaging my brain, and there’s always something new to do.
“I feel a real sense of accomplishment when a particular season is finished and you move to the next task, with the previous work carrying forward in some way. I am truly grateful for this career.”